Utah at Boston
7:30 PM ET
Utah: 106.9 points/100 possessions (8th)
Boston: 106.7 points/100 possessions (9th)
Utah: 105 points allowed/100 possessions (17th)
Boston: 98.8 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd to Thibodeau)
Utah’s probable starters: Deron Williams (PG), Raja Bell (SG), Andre Kirilenko (SF), Paul Millsap (PF), Al Jefferson (C)
View from opposing bench: Salt City Hoops
Thumbnail: The Celtics appear to have hit their stride again, and tonight they go for their 5th straight victory against the always-tough Jazz. In recent years, the Jazz have been known for being a dominant home team and struggling on the road. This season they are 12-8 on the road, but recently just lost two consecutive road games to Washington and New Jersey. So we’ll see if they start trending back to their old ways or are able to respond tonight.
The big matchup tonight is Williams and Rajon Rondo. For as much talk/hype that always surrounds Rondo-Rose and Rondo-CP3, there’s not as much surrounding D-Will. Nevertheless, you know Rondo will be fired up. It should be fun to watch how the two try to guard each other; Williams has the clear size advantage, but Rondo is a few steps quicker (although Williams is still deceivingly fast).
WHAT THE JAZZ DO WELL:
Pass the ball. Take care of the ball. Etc. As if you’d expect anything less from a team coached by Jerry Sloan and led by Deron Williams. The Jazz’s Assist Rate of 23% ranks them 2nd in the league behind Boston. And their Turnover Rate is 7th-best in the NBA. All signs point toward tonight being a well-executed, half-court game.
WHAT THE JAZZ DO POORLY:
Rebound and foul. Utah puts opposing players on the line more than any other team, which means the Celtics need to make their free throws tonight. The Jazz also possess the 4th-worst Defensive Rebound Rate in the NBA, and even though the Celtics don’t normally attack the offensive glass, tonight could be a good time for it.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Deron Williams: Duh.
Paul Millsap: I refuse to doubt Millsap anymore due to the fact that he’s only 6-8. The guy is a borderline All-Star in the West and is averaging 17.2 ppg, 8 rebounds and 1.4 steals. I generally love KG’s length matched up against smaller power forwards, but Millsap is gamer. He’s also opened up his game this year by adding an effective mid-range shot, shooting a handful of jumpers per game and making roughly 45% of them.
PLAYERS WHO DON”T MAKE ME WORRY:
Al Jefferson: I love Big Al. If he stays healthy, you can pretty much pencil him in for an 18 & 10 for the next five years. But there’s nothing about his game that truly scares me. Plus, you know Kevin Garnett is going to find a reason to make tonight’s game personal, which doesn’t bode well for Big Al.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
1. An efficient game from Paul Pierce. He’ll have a tricky assignment with Kirilenko, but the C’s will need another productive game from their captain.
2. Shaq and KG >Al and Millsap. That’s where the game will be won.
Prediction: Celtics 105, Jazz 101. But the Jazz make me nervous.